Schmidt’s Welsh Decisions

Posted: August 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

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A lot has been said about the Irish team that will line out against Wales on Saturday, with criticism of the Earls and Cave being tweeted throughout the country. Granted, it’s not the strongest centre partnership in Ireland, but that’s the point.

Schmidt will lead Ireland into a world cup in circa 40 days, and he needs to know what his back up players are capable of. Henshaw has proved he can mix it with the best during the autumn internationals. It is now time to give Earls a chance to do the same.

On the other hand, not much has been said about Micheal Bent on the bench. His introduction to test rugby was absolutely disastrous, yet he is two big games away from being considered for a world cup squad.

It is fantastic to see Andrew Trimble back in the mix, and a big game from him could see him as a contender for the starting berth. McFadden has proved he is a solid player, but will need a massive game to be considered as a starter in September.

The most interesting selection is at 9 and 10. Eoin Reddan has long been on the fringes of the team, and is being offered a chance to become 2nd choice behind Conor Murray. Kieran Marmion will hope to make an impact off the bench, but at the moment, Reddan will try and influence Schmidt into selecting him in the match day 23.

Sexton will start for Ireland come September, no question. But in 2011, so was Dan Carter. New Zealand won the world cup with their 4th choice out half, and on Saturday, Schmidt will be keen to see how influential his 3rd choice out half can be. Jackson’s international career hasn’t flourished as Sexton’s has, but neither is he out of the reckoning. Madigan has the ability to win games, but like Quade Cooper, he is also liable to try something outrageous. If Jackson manages the game well, kicks his goals and controls territory, he has a chance. Stranger things have happened.

Schmidt hasn’t picked his strongest team to face Wales, bar the backrow of Heaslip, Jordi Murphy and Tommy O’Donnell. But what he has done is given himself an opportunity to examine what his second and third choice players can do. Because in a world cup, you need more than just the starting XV.

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